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Report, project highlight workplace accommodations issues
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Mar. 16, 2004 -- People with disabilities often have difficulty in the workplace because of the need for personal assistance. And the workplace itself can contribute to creating disabilities -- especially when ergonomics aren't considered.

A new report from OSHA points out that people working in airport screening jobs are experiencing a much higher rate of workplace injury -- 19.4 percent -- than the on-the-job injury rate for other federal employees, which hovers around 5 percent. While work-related musculoskeletal disorders can occur from handling baggage, the big problem, says the report, is i the workstation itself -- because it wasn't designed ergonomically to aptly accommodate the task. Back injuries as well as sprains, strains, bumps, bruises, broken bones and cuts are all reported side-effects of the job of screening luggage. (Read the story from the Associated Press, "Injury Rates for Airport Screeners Indicate Need for Ergonomics," online at )

One of the barriers that prevents working-age people with disabilities from jobs is the issue of needing personal assistance at work. People have different needs and require combinations of accommodations. Having a personal assistant is one kind of accommodation that may be needed. But the Americans with Disabilities Act "does not require employers to provide personal care-related" personal assistance services, says the Center for Personal Assistance Services at the University of California/San Francisco. The Center is currently surveying employers as well as workers who have disabilities as to the kinds of personal assistance services people need at work. The research is supported by the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research. (More about the research the Center is conducting at )

The Center is inviting workers with disabilities who currently use personal assistance services at work to participate in a research project. "If you're interested in talking about the personal assistance services and assistive technology you need and use at work, the Center invites you to help identify the problems and solutions to improving Workplace Personal Assistance Services." Those services, says the Center, include "task-related assistance at work, such as readers, interpreters, help with lifting or reaching, re-assignment of non-essential duties to co-workers, and other help related to performing work tasks and may also include personal care-related assistance such as helping someone with toileting, eating, or drinking while at work. "

To participate, contact Sue Stoddard at InfoUse (510 549-6520 or

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